I'm a total forensics geek wanna be. If it's been available in my day as a college degree, I might be in a different profession. I love to solve puzzles, and forensics gives us the tools to solve puzzles.
Before CSI, NCIS, and Criminal Minds, someone had to have the thought about how evidence could lead to the truth. I was curious about how the science of forensics came to be. This is what I found.
Once upon a time in 1235 the story of Sung Tzu appears. It contained the first recorded documentation of forensic use to solve crimes. One case noted occurred during the Song Dynasty in China. A man was murdered and the local officials were looking for his killer. They determined he'd been killed by a sickle by experimenting with different weapons on animals.
They asked everyone in town to produce their sickles for examination. Though it was clean, one sickle was still attracting flies due to the scent of blood. They had their killer. Perhaps scared by the evidence before him, the man confessed.
Sung Tzu continued to record his findings in a book called Hsi Yuan Chi Lu (The Washing Away of Wrongs).
Advances continued starting as early as the 1600s.
Major advances include:
1880- Henry Faulds and William James Herschel published a study on fingerprints. This study was used to push for using fingerprints as evidence.
1895-A study by Eduard Piotrowski on blood stains leads to the science of blood spatter analysis
1901-Karl Landsteiner discovers that human blood falls into 1 of 4 groups: A, B, O, AB
1904-Locard's famous principle is born: "Every contact leaves a trace."
1912-Victor Balthazard discovers that gun barrels have a unique property to them. Therefore, no two guns will leave the same markings on a bullet.
1974-Gunshot residue can now be detected on a suspect
1984-DNA techniques are developed by Sir Alec Jeffreys
I find this all so fascinating, if you have other major advances in mind, post them in the comments.